I am positive it happened on a Sunday morning in late April. And I was
riding a bike east of Tucson with my long-time friend. We were either
getting ready for an upcoming race or recovering
from a race or trying out new wheels. Riding because that is what we did
on Sunday mornings. Traffic always light, the early time cool
in the Sonoran Desert. We pedaled up hills and down
into the arroyos covered in tarmac. Nada ever goes
down until algo happens. Who cares?
Whatever, it was 40 miles into maybe a 60
mile day where we were starting to talk about food (that was always the
conversation after 2 hours of riding). Huevos rancheros or a chorizo burrito,
a cup of coffee and doughnuts with sprinkles. I always ate
too much pan dulce.
We rode up over a steep hill and there it was
in the middle of the road. A large javalina, still alive
but suffering, making sounds from another world, its body badly twisted.
Sometimes a long road through the desert is more than a solitude. We both stopped,
cussed. Got off our bicycles. We knew what action to take
even though we did not say it and wanted less to do it. Suddenly
that morning spinning wheels gave us purpose. There, we small stepped
off the pavement, between knee high cacti and dried weeds
our hard cycling shoes skidding over small rocks just adding to the
out of the world moment. A few yards away we spotted several large rocks
about the size of imperfect soccer balls and moved towards them.
That is when the big pickup truck pulled up. Yes, it was black, jacked
up with big wheels and a guy about our age steps down. He is alone
wearing jeans, t-shirt, and a baseball cap. He looked at us in tight lycra
shorts and cycling shoes, helmets, skinny arms, and nodded. He knew our intentions,
just nodded. “Don’t worry guys, I got this.” My friend and I dropped the rocks.
as fast as we could, without wanting to fall and add to the bizzarro scene,
scampered through the rocks and weeds, mounted our bikes and rode away
down the hill. What in our history would have prepared us
for the last three minutes? The sound of the gun shot raced
by us. You always take home with you wherever you go.
Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith was born in Merida Yucatan, grew up in Tucson Arizona, and taught English at Tucson High Magnet School for 27 years. Since he grew up near the border and in a biracial, bilingual home and taught in a big urban high school where over 70 percent of the students were American-Mexican, much of the poetry he writes explores these experiences. Many years ago, he graduated with a degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona. His writings have appeared in Broken Matches Journal, Fourteen Hills, Sand Hills, the anthology, America, We Call Your Name and other places too. He has been married to Kelly for 30 years, and she helps edit his work, sometimes.